BAKU -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says the country's economy grew at a high rate the past two years despite the world economic crisis, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.
Aliyev, speaking at a Baku conference on March 1 devoted to Azerbaijan's 2009-13 socioeconomic development, estimated the total growth rate for 2009 and 2010 to be 15 percent.
In his annual address to parliament a year ago, Prime Minister Artur Rasizade said GDP growth in 2009 was 9.4 percent. The State Statistical Committee said in mid-January that a comparable figure for 2010 was 5 percent.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is the most rapidly developing country in the world. He said some $15.4 billion has been invested in Azerbaijan, though he did not specify the time period.
Aliyev added that more than 2,000 schools and over 400,000 hospitals and health clinics have been built over the past six to seven years.
Aliyev said that by the end of 2012, all villages in the country will have access to natural gas.
Aliyev said during his speech that "some people" do not approve of Azerbaijan's "independent" foreign policy and resort to "sabotage and pressure," without giving details. But he said the country's leadership will continue to be guided by the interests of the Azerbaijani people.
Aliyev said the recently launched anticorruption campaign will not be limited to just one or two years and has already yielded positive results. The campaign has reportedly led to the dismissal of several lower-level government officials.
Describing corruption as a major problem shortly after the uprisings began in Tunisia and Egypt, Aliyev has advocated making structural reforms in order to eliminate it.